See nearly all of Hubble’s observations in one amazing composite photo

This post is by from Popular Photography
composite image of all of Hubble's observations
The composite image is made up of 936,000 Hubble observations. Casey Handmer

Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has recorded over 1.3 million observations of deep space. One curious physicist, Dr. Casey Handmer, took it upon himself to create a stunning composite image of a majority of those observations, which puts the solar system on brilliant display. 

What the image shows

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Viewers will immediately notice the curved line running the length of the image—according to Dr. Handmer, who holds a Ph.D. in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics from CalTech, that’s the ecliptic (plane of orbit) of our solar system.

“These are planets, asteroids, moons,” he explains. “Their planes vary a little bit so the curved line is actually a family of nearby lines.”

Further examination reveals a dark U-shaped curve crossing the middle of the frame, which, he adds, is the galactic plane.

“Even though our galaxy is full of interesting stuff, it’s also full of dust which probably obscures a lot of more distant sources. Other obvious features include nearby galaxies such as the large and small Magellanic clouds in the lower left, and the Andromeda galaxy,” Dr. Handmer notes. 

After pulling together the composite, he was surprised to find that so much of the ecliptic was visible and that the total sky coverage amounted to 0.8%. “I’m not sure whether I expected much more or much less,” he says. 

How he did it 

“While Hubble wasn’t intended to perform all-sky surveys, I was interested in calculating how many observations would be needed to cover …



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